Nissan Marketing Chief Throws Shade at the Agency World

By Patrick Coffee 

Roel de VriesRoel de Vries is the corporate VP and head of marketing, communications and brand strategy at Nissan.

He also has some less-than-flattering things to say about ad agencies and their ability to learn the new way of doing things.

In a recent interview, de Vries tells The Drum that “everyone is pitching the latest idea to everybody”…and he doesn’t much care for it:


“If we look at all the analysis, traditional media is still doing extremely well, and it’s not because traditional media is more powerful, it’s because we and our agencies are still in the learning process of how we engage people.”

Sound familiar?

de Vries seems to think that the agency world is a bit too crowded for its own good:

“There’s sixty agencies…and they all have companies and all want to make money and will say, ‘I can do brochures, I’ll do PR, I’ll do digital, I buy display, and I can make a TV ad but then I have to give it to someone else’.”

He argues that all the marketing “pockets” created by the digital rush have made the process of coordinating services at his company’s various agencies a bit like corralling stubborn household animals:

“We use AKQA and how do I make sure what they do, or what DigiasLBi does, is linked to what TBWA does? Why is it the clients’ responsibility to tie it altogether?

…it’s my job to herd all these cats and put them in a room and say please ‘talk to each other.'”

Then he breaks it down: Nissan would prefer to have one “fully integrated” agency to take care of everything so de Vries himself can spend less time managing shops’ relationships with one another:

“The agency world is not ready…They have companies for everything and we need one agency with different specialties…”

In the case of Nissan, the client was large enough to convince Omnicom to create a unit dedicated to handling its own business exclusively.

But we expect to hear even more variations on de Vries’ statements in coming months.